Asia Pacific equities fell on Friday tracking Wall Street lower after Donald Trump announced heavy tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, stirring concerns over a trade war with China and the EU.
Mr Trump said on Thursday he would next week sign an order to impose global tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium “for a long period of time”, prompting a warning from the EU and a sharp fall in US equity indices on fears of a trade war.
The announcement sent steel and aluminium manufacturers in Asia tumbling with Japan’s Kobe Steel slipping 3.8 per cent while JFE Holdings fell 3.5 per cent and Japan Steel Works shed 3.9 per cent. In South Korea, Posco was down 3.6 per cent and Hyundai Steel fell 3 per cent. China’s Baoshan Iron and Steel was off 3.7 per cent, Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Union was down 0.9 per cent and Yunnan Aluminium fell 1.9 per cent.
Australia’s Bluescope Steel, bucked the trend, rising 1.7 per in Sydney cent following comments earlier in the week from its chief executive who said its plant in Ohio would shield the company from the negative effects of the tariffs.
“Korea and Japan too are big steel exporters to the US, and Australia a big exporter of the raw materials that third parties (mainly China) use to make steel. If these US ‘allies’ take the lead with retaliatory tariffs, it will open the door for China to respond too,” said Robert Carnell, head of research, Asia Pacific for ING.
Asia Pacific equities retreated on Friday following the announcement with Tokyo’s Topix seeing the biggest move. The index fell 2 per cent to a two-week low with falls across all sectors. The industrials segment and consumer discretionary stocks both fell 2.1 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 1.7 per cent at a two-week low as information technology stocks shed 2 per cent and financials were off 1.9 per cent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index of Hong Kong-listed Chinese stocks was down 2 per cent.
China’s CSI 300 of Shenzhen and Shanghai-listed companies fell 1 per cent.
In Sydney the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.9 per cent to a near two-week low as financials slipped 0.7 per cent and materials were down 0.9 per cent.
The Kospi was off 1.6 per cent in Seoul.
In New York, the S&P 500 tumbled after the presidential announcement on trade tariffs, ending the day 1.3 per cent lower, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 1.7 per cent.
Get alerts on Asia when a new story is published